Stained glass from the Geography building at Clark

Research Centers and Resources

George Perkins Marsh Institute

Grounded in nearly a century of applied research at Clark University, the George Perkins Marsh Institute advances scientific understanding of the ways in which humans influence--and are influenced by--our surrounding natural, technological and socioeconomic environments. Working within a collaborative agenda, the Institute coordinates resources from Clark University and elsewhere to study human transformation of the environment and responses to this change. Among the hallmarks of the Institute are collaborative research efforts that challenge traditional disciplinary boundaries in search of novel approaches and solutions, along with systems-based perspectives to wicked challenges such as climate change and human development. The Institute is home to more than 50 research faculty and staff, many of whom have joint appointments with other departments

It is home to the Jeanne X. Kasperson Research Library specializing in publications on environmental risks and hazzards and more.

Clark Labs

Clark Labs logoBased within the world-renowned Graduate School of Geography at Clark University, Clark Labs is dedicated to the research and development of geospatial technologies for effective and responsible decision making for environmental management, sustainable resource development and equitable resource allocation. Clark Labs is best known for development of pioneering software products. IDRISI was the first GIS software system specifically targeted at the microcomputer platform. Since its introduction in 1987, it has grown to become one of the most widely used raster systems of its type with installation in more than 180 countries.

Partnering with such organizations as the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Esri Inc., Conservation International, World Conservation Society, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the United Nations, Clark Labs leverages its academic base to develop innovative and customized research tools, provide software solutions to organizations in need and apply geospatial expertise to a range of real-wold problems. Clark Labs has the largest proportional research and development (R&D) budget in the industry devoted to the analytical development of geographic information technology.

In 2015, Clark Labs released the TerrSet Geospatial Monitoring and Modeling software which includes the IDRISI GIS and Image Processing tools, along with an additional constellation of software tools for monitoring and modeling the earth system. These include the Land Change Modeler, Earth Trends Modeler, GeOSIRIS, Ecosystems Services Modeler, Habitat and Biodiversity Modeler, and Climate Change Adaption Modeler.

Areas of significant research and development include:

  • Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics
  • Land Change Analysis
  • Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)
  • Machine Learning and Neural Networks
  • Soft Classifiers
  • Multi-Criteria/Multi-Objective Decision Making
  • Spatial Processes
  • Dynamic Modeling

Guy H. Burnham Map and Aerial Photograph Library

Founded in 1921, the Guy H. Burnham Map and Aerial Photograph Library is an active cartographic information center. The collection contains 230,000 maps, imagery, digital data, GIS and mapping software, atlases, journals, globes, reference materials, and tourist information. As a depository for the U.S. Government Printing Office, the Map Library houses a full array of maps and electronic products published by the federal government.


The Computer Facility for Environmental Research and Teaching (CoFERT) is a facility created by gifts from the Culpeper and Keck Foundations. It supports research in Geography and the Marsh Institute requiring large data sets and advanced computer-based analyses. The lab has a Windows NT server capable of handling a large number of clients. Additional hardware includes Pentium NT workstations and other data input and output peripherals, such as a large format color printer, a flatbed scanner, slide scanner, CD-writers, and large format digitizers.

Geography MS GIS/HERO Computer Labs

The Geography MA GIS/HERO Computer Labs are primarily research labs for students in GIS Accelerated Degree program, HERO program and those in GIS courses as well as, automated cartography, statistics, and physical geography.  Two labs house 5 each Windows NT workstations and full access over the network to specialized computer equipment in the CoFERT Lab. Software supported includes Idrisi, ArcView, ArcInfo, ERDAS, Delphi, and a variety of products for numerical and statistical analysis.